I struggle with my ‘to-do’ list. I don’t mean ticking off everything on the list (I imagine everyone has difficulty at times with that), but rather how to keep control of the list. In the past, notebooks, small scraps of paper, post-it notes, scribbles in the diary and jottings in my sketchbook have all held information, including things I am supposed to do.
If you are a small business owner and you work from home, it is quite easy to suffer from feeling overwhelmed. After all, there is always something more you could be doing. That was a common experience when I was a teacher, but then there were holidays between the terms. Now I could potentially be working all the time…
So, starting in January, I am determined to use some tools to help me complete the necessary tasks and manage my time. This is what I am using:
This is a standard ‘Things to do’ list bought from Ryman’s stationers. The change is that instead of having a torn-off sheet floating about the desk, the whole pad is contained within a bright pink clipboard-style file that I can’t miss. One and a half pages are now filled in with things to attend to. Once completed I will cross them out with highlighter so it’s very easy to see which remain to do.
Next is this diary, an academic year diary because my business started in September 2014 and I count the years from the month of September. (This is year four – eek!)
I have been using this since September 2017 to record the work I have done. The pages are helpfully divided into half-hour segments, so I can jot down the start and finish time for everything I do. Quilts take a long time to make and it is useful to know exactly how many hours a particular quilt took. I can check my overall weekly hours too.
I have a regular diary which I keep in my handbag and which comes everywhere with me. All the birthdays I need to remember go in at the start of the year. Any holidays or visits we have planned go in too. As bookings come in for our AirBnB house, they are inserted as these have to be borne in mind when deciding on other activities. I like to be at home to welcome guests when they arrive and the changeover between guests has to be scheduled in. This year I am using a Cath Kidston diary, bought at the airport on one of my trips. A propelling pencil with rubber (essential!) is held in by a neat patch and elastic loop made by Leuchturm (for their own notebooks, presumably, but which can be purchased separately.)
I like the fact that it has a notes page on the right-hand side, so you can jot down flight times etc. (Why are my examples about travel I wonder…)
Every Mondays is blocked out, as shown above, as this is my planning, blogging and emailing day and I don’t schedule anything else in. Any work events (such as giving a talk), go in this diary too.
Work planning however is going to go in this planner by Punch Studio.
It has a useful double-page lay-out. By doing a quick check with my regular diary at the start of the week, I can block out times when I know I will be out and allocate tasks and activities to the remaining time in each of the days. This makes the work feel much more manageable.
In a plastic box file is a plan for the year (from September 2017) and a list of the quilts I plan to make (I’m up-to-date with that, just.) Some of this planning was created on the lap-top (the year-plan was made in Excel), but for day-to-day work I find that my planning has to be on paper. Lists on my phone or on the lap-top just didn’t work for me.
This little notebook (published by Galison) is kept specially for ideas and prompts for blog-posts. Last year, I wrote 47 posts on Mondays, (plus 3 on Tuesdays), so almost one a week. I need plenty of ideas!
The inside is a delight: a colourful graphic on every page. The artwork is by Quill & Fox.
Finally, there is a very small notebook published by Knock Knock whose title speaks for itself.
However, instead of carrying it round with me, I’m just taking a single page, with the intention of adding anything I think of when I am out and about. When I come home, this gets transferred to the main to-do list pictured at the top of the post.
So… no more slips of paper and random notes!
In case you are busy with your own 2018 planning and organisation, I’ll just mention my own downloadable 2018 calendar on Etsy. You can get it here.